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Finding Empathy

Alisha Bridges answers our questions on the mental challenges presented to her by psoriatic disease.

When did you receive your psoriasis diagnosis? And what was that like for you mentally and emotionally?

I was only 7 when I was first diagnosed. At the time, my young mind could not fathom what the road ahead with having a severe and visible chronic condition would be. My mental and emotional health changed as I aged and encountered different seasons in life.

At 7 the ideas of beauty standards had not yet occurred to me. But I remember first feeling shame about my disease in the 5th grade. That is when I realized my skin would impact my attractiveness to other people.

Would you say that psoriatic disease takes an emotional toll?

Yes. You have all kinds of fears which include: Will the disease progress? What happens to my health if I lose insurance?

In the past, I wondered if I could ever find love. Now divorced, I wonder what will happen if my disease worsens and I’m single and by myself. You think all kinds of thoughts depending on the phase you currently are in. 

What has the One to One program and other support from NPF meant to you?

The One to One program was one of the first pivotal moments in my life where I connected deeply with someone living with psoriasis. Talking to my mentor brought so much excitement to my life because I had finally found someone who could relate to me.

Your friends and family try their best to give you compassion and empathy but it’s a different experience when you receive it from someone who knows exactly what you are going through because they are living it.

What do you want people to know about having psoriatic disease?

Anyone can be affected by chronic illness. One day you are disease-free and the next you might see strange spots or experience joint pain and your life is now changed forever. So it’s important to show empathy and compassion despite your current connection to the disease. 


[Editor’s Notes: Questions and answers have been slightly edited for clarity]

Researching the Mental Connection

NPF funds research related to mental health and psoriatic disease through the More Than Skin Deep grant.

Learn more about the grant

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